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As the UK’s national squads continue their rollercoaster ride of victory and failure, Cavendish Hospitality MD Simon Gillespie looks at the importance of winning
England’s home teams have seen their fair share of ups and downs over the past few months. While the rugby squad has won a few games and the cricketers did manage to bring a trophy back from Australia after losing the Ashes, the football side is in grave danger of not even qualifying for next year’s European Championships.
This raises the question of whether misfortune on the field affects the hospitality sector in a negative way. There’s no doubt everyone likes to be associated with success. A winning national team will attract interest at all levels, not least the corporate (nothing like a hard-won ticket to tempt clients out to play).
But is the reverse necessarily true? When asked if the diminished success of a national team will lead directly to a fall in corporate interest for its games, the immediate reaction would perhaps be ‘yes’, but I don’t believe it’s a clear-cut trend.
Take this summer’s cricket internationals, for instance. Even though the country has long since recovered from the Ashes euphoria of 2005, early reports indicate that hospitality packages will in fact sell even better this year – despite England’s dismal performance in Australia over the winter.
Similarly, ticket sales for the Rugby World Cup have remained buoyant even during the times when the England squad was suffering badly on the field.
In this case, the proximity of the games to the UK market is also a factor. Held primarily in France – easy enough for Londoners to get to – the tournament will also be played partly in Cardiff and Edinburgh, which strengthens the local market.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the corporate entertainment sector has changed significantly over the past 10 to 15 years. Hospitality events are no longer considered ‘just a jolly’. Nor are they booked on a whim and at the last minute. Instead, they form part of an integrated and accountable corporate strategy that is properly budgeted and planned for. These days, companies tend to commit to events and stick with them.
Even more fundamentally, I think interest in the events themselves will often take precedence over the form of the individual players or teams. Let’s face it, if it were true that poor performance from the national side would always lead to a downturn in the hospitality market, we wouldn’t all be scrambling to entertain clients at Wimbledon year after year.
Cavendish Hospitality, tel: 020 8567 3530, squaremeal.co.uk/cav-hosp
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2007.